Breathtaking, Advanced-Level Hikes in Marin
Posted in Blogging Marin on Wednesday, September 14, 2022 by MCVB Staff
By Joe Kukura
Northern California’s famed Marin County is a can’t-miss destination for weekend hikers, with an unrivaled natural landscape of mountains, trails and open spaces, many with unbeatable views of the mighty Pacific Ocean.
Experienced hikers know that an elevated experience awaits on Marin County’s advanced hiking trails, especially as the autumn colors get ready to fall into place. When choosing among the best places to hike in Marin County, groups or teams on off-site activities can experience tailored, customized hikes through one of the county’s many hiking tours. But for those on their own or on a weekend trip with family and friends, let’s take a hike through the best-advanced trails Marin County has to offer.
Best Loop Trails
Loop trails, or circle hikes, are popular with hikers because they end right where they started—in other words, right where your car is parked. And the special, natural magic of Marin County scenery and panoramic views will really hook you in on these trails.
History buffs and hikers alike will be fascinated by China Camp State Park in San Rafael, with 15 miles of trails winding through a Gold Rush-era shrimp fishing village on the shores of the San Pablo Bay. Many historical artifacts remain there to this day, and waterfront views mix with unparalleled wildlife watching opportunities in a park also popular with horseback riders, kayakers, and stand-up paddleboarders.
Angel Island State Park is indeed on an island in the San Francisco Bay, so you will need to make arrangements to get there by boat. But the 13 miles of trails offer remarkable views of the San Francisco skyline, Mount Tamalpais and the Marin Headlands, and the 360-degree view from atop Mount Livermore is an uphill climb that’s worth the rewards.
Perhaps the most famed view in Marin County is the scenic vista view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands trails. Advanced hikers can find their spectacular scenery on trails like the Pacific Coast’s Muir Beach to Tennessee Beach Loop, or the very challenging 31-mile Ridge to Bridge Trail that spans from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the Golden Gate Bridge.
You’ll find plenty of trails when hiking Mount Tamalpais, as Marin County’s most recognized mountain has countless trails winding through Mount Tamalpais State Park. The most rewarding hike to the peak of Mount Tamalpais is a relatively short 1.2-mile hike each way, but a 200-mile system of trails within the park features sweeping ridges and hillsides, magnificent oak tree woodlands, and incomparable redwood groves.
Best Redwood Hikes
The redwood groves are also a towering feature of the Point Reyes National Seashore, known among locals as one of the best places to see famed redwoods without the Muir Woods crowds. There are more than 150 miles of hiking trails along the Point Reyes seashore, with advanced hikes like the very popular Bear Valley Trail, the lush Woodward Valley Loop and the tule elk reserves of the Tomales Point Trail.
The redwood-rich gorges of Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Lagunitas make it one of the most scenic hikes in Marin County, and highlights include the Bolinas Ridge Trail, with views of pastures and grasslands, and the Barnabe Peak that overlooks the San Geronimo Valley.
Best Beach Hikes
Beach hiking doesn’t get much better than the Cataract Falls Trail Loop out of Mill Valley and onto Mt. Tamalpais. You see nine falls! Both the beginning and the end of this dog-friendly, eight-mile redwood forest loop are accessible by road, with high-elevation heights offering scenic Pacific Ocean views, plus washrooms and picnic areas along the way.
And the renowned Marin Coastal Trail, one of the largest urban parks on earth, magnificently lives up to its name. In addition to unforgettable Pacific Ocean views, the trail features an unrivaled array of wildlife and military artifacts ranging from World War II sites to the remnants of the battles of Spanish conquistadors.
Hiking in Marin County is always an adventure, so be sure to dress appropriately and always follow park guidelines. Your preparation pays off, though, with a premiere collection of hiking trails plus renowned restaurants and places to stay after your epic day’s trek. So blaze a new trail to Marin County, where the advanced hiking trails will take your outdoor adventure to the next level.